Shuna’s Journey, a captivating tale by Hayao Miyazaki

In this tale – since it is presented as such – we meet young Shuna. He is the prince of a remote and terribly poor country: there, not a plant grows. The crops produce nothing, so the people barely survive, as do their livestock. Each inhabitant is born and dies without ever feeling anything other than hunger and tiredness.

One day, Shuna discovers a traveler passed out on the way. Welcomed by these indigent people, the man reveals to the prince the existence of miracle seeds, capable of taking root anywhere and feeding entire countries. To find them, you have to go west, to the ends of the earth. But this journey is dangerous, long and difficult. And no one ever came back.

Shuna doesn’t hesitate for a second. Ignoring the pleas and warnings of his elders, he gathers his things and sets out on an adventure. His only companion is his faithful yakuru. The path is full of traps and makes you discover a humanity in full drift. However, he persists until he reaches the land of divine beings.

Covered in dense vegetation, the island appeared to have never been disturbed by man. (…) No beast was threatening, none was threatened. Shuna felt a sense of deep calm. »

Published in its original version around forty years ago, Shuna’s journey was finally offered to an impatient French-speaking reader. movie fans Studio Ghibli You will not fail to find, nestled in this untold story, the few elements that will later be present on cinema screens. Some characters, some places feel familiar, yet still unique. And it is no surprise that certain themes find a place of choice in this story: thus, nature is omnipresent, as cruel as it is magnificent. Morality is there, before our eyes, with these immense creatures that work tirelessly in these infinite fields to cultivate these magical seeds. With this moon, which rises and dies every day in the same place. With human disdain, which allows itself to sacrifice its fellow human beings to survive, without worrying about the consequences. With this illusion of abundance, while other places suffer from lack and desolation. A broken balance, that’s what it shows us Shuna’s journey.

But also the hope of doing better, through the young characters who make this story vibrate. On one side, a Shuna full of goodwill and impeccable altruism. His only desire: to do good around him. He is guided by incredible strength, capable of moving mountains for his people. On the other side, Théa, this young slave who diligently cares for him until his recovery. A heroine as Miyazaki accustomed us to seeing them: fundamentally human, determined, independent and courageous.

Léopold Dahan’s translation work is delightful. Without harshness, without side steps, Miyazaki’s words find their French audience with crazy simplicity. Enough to make the experience even more impactful. Hayao Miyazaki’s drawings are magical. From the first pages it is A dreams’ world that is offered to us. Despite the darkness of some of the issues discussed – such as slavery, in particular – there is still room for light and good. Like the promise of a sweeter life, here through something as small and fragile as golden seeds.

A wonderful epic.

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